homework help

I really don’t remember G having so much homework at Primary school but maybe that’s just my memory!

The Boys all had Reading, Maths and Spelling to do and I think we probably spent around 4 hours in total going through everything.  Zacky was raring to go with his homework as soon as he got up at 7.30am on Saturday but the other two were a bit more reluctant to complete their maths homework and it took some negotiating with Xbox time to encourage them to complete theirs on Sunday – I’ll happily resort to a little bribery.

Getting them to read is luckily never a problem as all three of them have always been complete bookworms from an early age.

Caspar is currently reading “Bad Dad” by David Walliams which he’s really enjoying although as well as reading the book he loves to sit and discuss the plot – but that may just be his ploy to stay up a little bit longer, and it usually works

But it’s not the amount of time it takes that I find is the problem it’s the fact that teaching methods have changed so much over the years that I don’t actually understand some of the terminology!

It’s been a long time since G was at school and even longer since I was at school, so Phonics is like a foreign language to me, I mean what on earth is a Grapheme or Digraph! and when it comes to maths homework it’s all “Number Patterns” and “Number Lines” – what ever happened to good old traditional adding up and long division.

Actually, to be fair I do think the current methods of teaching are better as children are being taught “Why” rather than just “How” but if you’re a parent or grandparent it can be a little bit confusing.

Being an Accountant (I guess that should be Ex Accountant now that I’m retired) and a naturally inquisitive person, I drive Mr J mad with my “Why”? questions, I did some reading up on current Primary school teaching methods.  I’m certainly no expert and there are some great online resources such as Oxford Owl and Reading with Fonics but here’s my quick guide to Primary school maths and Reading methods and terminology.

Reading - Phonics

Each one of the 26 letters in the alphabet has its own ‘sound’. This is very different to how a letter is ‘said’ in the alphabet.  Of course phonics is not that simple! There are more than 26 sounds in the English language, in fact there are 44 sounds in total. Some of these sounds are made up of 2 or 3 letters. 2 letter sounds are called digraphs and three letter sounds are called trigraphs.  Once children have learnt the sounds then they can start “blending” them to read words.

Key terms:

  • Phoneme – a sound as it is said
  • Grapheme – a sound that is written
  • Digraph– two letters that work together to make the same sound
  • Trigraph – Three letters that work together to make the same sound
  • Split digraph – Two letters that work together to make the same sound, separated by another letter
  • Blending – saying the individual sounds in a word then running them together to make the word. For example sounding out d-o-g and making dog.

The Biff and Chip books are really good when they’re starting to learn to read.


Maths - Basic Terms

I’m certainly not going to try and give you a complete maths lesson here but these are probably the basic things to be familiar with.  The concept of a Number Line and how to use it, Number Bonds and Four Fact Families (we were doing 4 fact families with Cas’s homework at the weekend) the Grid method for multiplication and the Chunking or grouping method for division (you find out lots more on things like Bridging and Partitioning here Addition in school by Kate Robinson)

And it goes without saying that the Times Tables are probably still one of the most important things your child can learn and I’m sure we can all remember learning those off by heart when we were at school.

homework help

Number Line – nothing scary just a line with numbers on it that can help with calculations.

Number Bonds and Fact Families – also often referred to as ‘number pairs’. They are simply the pairs of numbers that make up a given number such as 1 + 9, 2 + 8, 3 + 7, 4 + 6, 5 + 5 all are all bonds of  10.

The idea of the four-fact family is to help students realise that once they know one of the facts in the family, they know all of them.  A fact family is a group of math facts using the same numbers. In the case of addition/subtraction, you use three numbers and get four facts. For example, you can form a fact family using the three numbers 10, 2, and 12:

10 + 2 = 12

2 + 10 = 12

12 − 10 = 2

12 − 2 = 10.

Chunking is a method used for dividing larger numbers that cannot be divided mentally, it is repeated subtraction of the divisor and multiples of the divisor – in other words, working out how many groups of a number fit into another number.

The purpose of chunking is for children to be able to think about the relationship between multiplication and division. It involves using rough estimates of how many times a number will go into another number and then adjusting until the right answer is found.

Here is an example of how you could divide 12 by 3 using chunking:

We then count up all the times we subtracted 3, which in this example was 4 times.  We reached 0 so there was no remainder so in this example the answer to 12 /3 is 4

The Grid method is a way of teaching multiplication that is used in primary schools. Pupils move on from an array to the grid method. It is also used for teaching times tables.

You need an empty number square.

To calculate 35 × 7, set it out in a grid like this:


Multiply each pair of numbers and write them in the grid. Then add the two answers to the multiplication to find the answer.


210 + 35 = 245

I hope I haven’t totally confused you! The websites I found most useful were Oxford Owl and Read with Fonics

And just try and make maths and reading fun, the Boys love playing Monopoly, although it can get a bit competitive and they’ve always loved helping to measure out the ingredients when we bake.

Happy homework, and please share you tips and tricks.

Written by 

6 thoughts on “Aaah Grandkids homework, so what’s a Split digraph and 4 Fact Family (Maths)”

    1. they live very close and have always stayed over from when they were tiny and we love that we get to see them so often

  1. Very informative! Wish the school had given out some information like this when my daughter started at school – I was always confused as to what she meant by digraph and trigraph, at least I’ll know when my son starts in September! #bigpinklink

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *